July 17, 2012
Albuquerque, N.M. --- If the two-time defending Mountain West Champion Lobo women's soccer team is going to make a third consecutive NCAA College Cup appearance, they will do so without the advantage of a lot of home cooking. The 2012 women's soccer schedule has been released by head coach Kit Vela, and it features just five home matches on the 18-game regular season slate.
The five regular season home games should be entertaining, as the opponents are former conference foe TCU, rival New Mexico State, and strong conference rivals in Boise State, Air Force, and Wyoming. The Lobos defeated Wyoming 2-0 in the Mountain West Tournament championship game at the UNM Soccer Complex last November for the first conference tournament title in school history.
"We are disappointed in not having more home games, but that's the current climate in women's soccer" said head coach Kit Vela. "We lost a couple of home games due to travel costs and the economy, but we will take these road trips as learning experiences and use them to test ourselves."
Vela added, "All games, non-conference and conference, are all tremendous opportunities, and this group is looking forward to the level that's needed in each and every game."
The Lobos will open at home on August 17 against former Mountain West and new Big XII member TCU, before the Lobos head east to face a second straight Big XII foe in Texas Tech.
The two tournaments for UNM are the Husker Classic, where UNM will take on Iowa State and host Nebraska, and the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational, where UNM will face SMU and host Texas.
After playing Texas, who qualified for the NCAA College Cup in 2011, a third straight weekend on the road will see the Lobos head to SEC country to take on Georgia and Florida. Both Georgia and Florida made it to the round of 32 in the 2011 College Cup, giving UNM a three-team road gauntlet that will test the mettle of the two-time defending conference champions. However, Vela says that these types of games are perfect to get the Lobos ready for an always difficult Mountain West schedule.
UNM will come home from those road trips to face New Mexico State in a Rio Grande Rivalry game before heading back out on the road, this time to California to face UC Riverside and UC Davis to end the non-conference slate.
"I love the challenge that our pre-conference schedule presents, as we will play some very good teams in some great environments. These are the types of games we need to play to get ready for the Mountain West, in which every game is a battle," said Vela.
UNM opens conference play at home against Boise State, which will be the final meeting before Boise State leaves the Mountain West. UNM will then take on the league's two newest teams in Nevada and Fresno State on the road before traveling to face off with UNLV.
It's then home for two games with Air Force and Wyoming to end the home slate before finishing conference play at San Diego State, site of the 2012 Mountain West Tournament.
"Every league game will challenge us mentally and physically, but that is what this group of young women has been training for since the end of last season," said Vela. "The great thing is that we have some incredible leaders in this group. They are ready to lead a group of intense, competitive young women through the journey of the season."
A journey that UNM women's soccer fans hope culminates in a third straight league title and College Cup berth.
NOTES: Three of the dates, vs. New Mexico State, Air Force, and Wyoming are doubleheaders with the men's team. In the case of the NMSU game, it's a tripleheader as the Lobo men's team is hosting a tournament prior to the women's game ... UNM is 10-0-4 in its last 14 conference games dating back to the 2009 season ... UNM was fourth nationally in attendance last year.